I have a small little alcove in my wall which is perfect for a bookshelf and started stud hunting. I followed along either side of an outlet with a strong magnet until I found a screw and then moved up vertically until I marked them all. I checked around either side of this stud but failed to locate any more screws.

I don't know anything about drywall. Does it seem plausible there are no other studs to be had here?

I've attached a photo of the wall with the screws I narked with tape.

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I went over it a bit more and hugged closer to the wall to find two more studs. They are 11" apart (left side) and 28" apart (right side). Does this seem right?

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One of the comments helped me think more about why the studs are placed as they are. There is an air vent that passes directly through the center of the wall and the center stud is to the left of it.

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  • FYI- finding all the screws vertically isn't necessary. It's usually pretty safe to assume that the stud will run vertically in the wall, so once you've found the stud, just draw a light pencil line straight up & down. Or, find the stud at the top & at the bottom and mark there.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 11, 2018 at 12:42
  • In the US it would be unusual to find a (center-to-center) distance greater than 24", but 28" is not way outside that. I would say that you should be able to securely mount shelves to the three studs you have identified. Are you in an earthquake hazard area? Dec 11, 2018 at 13:26
  • I'm not in an earthquake zone. I have a separate question where I asked of I cab just use the studs on either side and drywall anchors in the middle. I'm guessing that the spacing has to do with the fact that the AC runs directly down the center of the wall. It looks like the center stud is to the left of it.
    – Zhro
    Dec 11, 2018 at 13:43
  • In a non load bearing wall with the hvac trunk duct being covered I have seen up to 36" to allow room for the trunk duct. The normal spacing is usually 16 or 24" on center but even this varies depending on the location.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 11, 2018 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


Do you know whether the stud spacing in this structure is 16" or 24"? This one stud may be all there is. You may have the edges of studs accessible at the ends of the alcove. If these are available, that would give three studs which is sufficient. Depending on how much weight you plan to put on this, you can use anchors in drywall. ELFA drywall anchors are very secure against pullout stress.

Scan the wall with a stud finder.

  • @OP - If the stud finder won't identify any additional studs in this little wall, use it to find studs in another wall and measure the distance between them - there's about 99% certainty that the stud spacing will be consistent between that wall and this alcove wall.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 11, 2018 at 12:43

Based on your finding that you have a 28" gap between the 2 studs and what appears to be a double slot shelf channel in the corner of your picture, I'd venture to say you'll be OK to run 3 of those vertical braces with shelving brackets hanging off of them.

To confirm this, I hit up the Sagulator. I'm not sure of your shelf material will be, so I chose

  • Melamine (pretty standard stuff)
  • gave it 30 lbs/foot (should hold a lot of books)
  • 12 inches deep
  • 3/4 inch material
  • 28 inch span

It calculated the sag at 0.04 inch total sag and only 0.016 inch sag/foot.

Just for fun, I "removed" the center support and gave it a span of 39". The sag there would be 0.44" across that span, which they label as "excessive", and I'd agree - you'll see a 1/2" sag in your shelf when you load it up.

If you're using different shelving material, click the link and put in what you're after.

  • I'm wondering if it would be better to place a standard on either end and one in the center using drywall anchors. See my other question: diy.stackexchange.com/q/152470/84062
    – Zhro
    Dec 11, 2018 at 14:14
  • According to Sagulator's calculations, having the standards off-center should be just fine for strength. After that, it's mostly down to cost & appearance. It'll cost more to put in quality anchors that will take a shelf full of books (assuming that's your plan - consider that it may be the next user's plan...). It may look a bit funny with the off-center standard, but some creative effort could make a bit of a joke out of it if you wanted.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 11, 2018 at 14:21

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